Finally, Google has officially launched Google+ brand pages. Marketers and those involved in social media are quick to point out the comparison to Facebook, although Google does not see itself that way, as this interview with Google VP Bradley Horowitz demonstrates.
However, as marketers, it is our job to explore these various options so we can recommend them to clients and help them meet their business goals. Below is a quick breakdown of this new offering.
- Direct Connect – The Direct Connect feature is the ability for the Google+ brand pages to be found right in the search engine. By adding a + in front of the search query, users are connected right to the brand’s Google+ page where they can add to circles.
- Segmentation of customers – Circles is a core feature of the Google+ platform and the brand pages also utilize this functionality. Brands can divide their customer base into various subsets and target messages specifically for them.
- Huddles allow for exclusive content – Video chats with the company allow for a customer to experience more of an intimate connection with the brand. The demo video emphasized this feature using the neighborhood bike shop as an example. This more direct, more real connection was one of the purposes of this medium in the first place.
- Banning contests and promotions – This to me is the biggest flaw of the new platform. I had hoped that I would be able to use a contest and promotions to help build our clients followers.
This is not something that hurts just the marketers, however; this affects the consumers directly. Study after study, including this graphic below, has shown that consumers connect with brands for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason is to receive special offers and discounts. This makes me ask Google, “What were you thinking?”
- Single admin – As of right now, Google+ pages only allow for one owner. Unlike Facebook, where you can add multiple administrators and work as a team to produce content, Google has limited it to one user. You can share the e-mail that was used to create the account, but even using that tactic has its limitations, as you cannot determine who on your team was posting what content. Overall, it just makes things less intuitive behind-the-scenes.
- Lack of analytics – A favorite saying that I use when thinking about analytics is, “You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you’re starting from.” With Google+ brand pages, it is hard to figure out a goal and a target because there is no way to measure your progress. The complete lack of analytics makes it very difficult for marketers to see what is working and what isn’t, which makes strategic planning almost impossible. That said, I am sure a robust analytics feature is coming.
- Lack of scale – At this very moment, I am hard pressed to recommend any of our clients get involved within the platform. The reason is simply that the users are not there. While it seems like those involved in the industry – marketers, branding experts, etc. – are all active within the Google+, it has yet to cross over to the mainstream consumer. Spending money on this platform is equivalent to paying for a sign in the middle of the woods where no one will see it.
Google+ brand pages are a brand new offering and as Google has mentioned, they are still in a learning phase. As they receive feedback on what is and what isn’t working and as the user base continues to grow, the platform could become more of a key component in a complete online marketing strategy.